Several years ago the leadership at Bellevue undertook a process to define the mission and vision of the church. That resulted in the ‘Vision Frame’ that guides every ministry that Bellevue undertakes, from how we Worship on Sunday mornings, how we reach the city through Bellevue Loves Memphis, how we connect in the various Groups on campus to how we individually serve the church. It was not done to be a set of rules and regulations, rather it was done so we can ask the question, “Is what we are doing in this particular program or ministry taking us closer to our mission or further away from our mission”. Kenyan churches face different but similar challenges in everyday life. The economic realities of living in Kenya mean that the need far exceeds the resources for most churches. The partners we work with at The East Africa Project are primarily located in the slums and poor villages in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The members of their congregations many times are working 2 and 3 jobs just to put food on the table. There is no money available for a ‘building program’.
The leaders here take God at His Word, literally! When God says through James that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…”, they act. Feeding programs, schools, widow’s ministry, and orphanages are common among our partners. They see needs and they do their best to meet them. But for the most part, they just dive in and do what they can without really sitting down to plan. I asked them to sit down and list all the things they were trying to do and then I asked them how they felt about the list. The common answer was “Brother Jeff, I am tired!”.
On Friday we spent about six hours talking about defining their mission to help them focus on the right activities. We discussed strategy on setting achievable goals and thinking ahead about the tasks required to accomplish those goals. We used the Bellevue Mission Frame as a guide to help them to define what their main objectives were. We asked questions like “what should you stop doing”, “what should you do more of” and “is that task or program bringing you closer to or further away from your objective?”. Lack of activity or engagement is NOT their problem. They just wanted to talk about how to focus the wildfire into a furnace.
Just to reiterate, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even know all the questions. But I have been blessed to sit under the leadership of some amazing people like Steve Gaines, Drew Tucker, Steve Marcum, and Phil Newberry. I’ve had the advantage of mentors and friends like Bobby Hancock, Mike Curry, Gene Stallings, Phil Dane, and John Jerkins. I know I am leaving dozens of other out for space. You know who you are! I’ve had the advantage of 40+ years in the corporate world learning principles that can be applied here in Kenya. Nothing I share with these men and women is original with me. It’s just one beggar helping another find a piece of bread. Let me ask you: What is that God has shown you over the course of your life? What wisdom have you been taught that you can share? What is it that God wants you to do with what you’ve been given? You don’t have to be a professional to share what God has taught you. Trust me, I’m certainly not!
On Saturday we’ll get to spend some time with Richard and Hellen discussing the new widow’s center. I won’t do justice to their story, but I know it will bless you. Until later…